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The Imagined Anthropocene Disaster Shelter

This is the Imagined Anthropocene Disaster Shelter

The human species certainly have a inclination to construct protective measures. Whether the shelter consists of a tent, cave or a modern underground fall-out shelter, we find them wherever there are humans in the vicinity. This image tries to vizualise the 20th century shelter throughout its lifetime. The purpose of the image is to vizualise how the disaster shelter is constantly re-interpreted in the anthropocenic age depending on what humans consider a threat. Throughout history, humans have gone from stone fortifications to underground shelters to self-surveillance and information control today.

The outer frame, or context, of the image is the city itself; one of the original shelter types made to protect from outside harm. The city is surrounded by a wall and a tower; objects that throughout antiquity and medieval times functioned as protective reinforcement of the city from raids and wars. In the 20th century, during the age of aerial bombardment and nuclear war, the city is more than ever the scene where disaster is played out and the underground shelter is therefore added. The constant fear of disaster, so vivid during the 20th century, is further vizualized by the doomsday clock seen above the city like a sunset. Set to 5 minutes to midnight it reminds the viewer of how humans constantly imagines themselves as living in the age of upheaval and therefore finds motivation to construct shelters of various kinds to protect themselves.

Looking closer at the details, the image is also a timeline from 1947 to 2015. 1947 is the year when the doomsday clock was first introduced in the magazine Scientific American as fears of nuclear war was growing in the general public. Worth noting is that, from 2007 and on, the environmental condition of the earth is also considered when the Scientific American adjusts the clock for each year. The city’s architecture also evolves from stone to concrete to chisel and screens as time progress over the same period, displaying a development from material fortification to digital fortification. Below ground, the shelter follows a similar logic. In the left corner of the shelter, there are art and goldtacks. In the right corner the shelter houses computer servers and surveillance equipment. Somewhere in the middle are we, the human beings of the anthropocene.

 

Peter Bennesved

Phd-Student in History of Science and Ideas and Digital Humanities at UmeƄ University Twitter: @Bennesved